Some friends of White House press secretary Jim Brady got together at Nathan's in Georgetown last Saturday afternoon to film and record a luncheon given in his honor. The film will be presented to Brady today at George Washington University Hospital.
One of Brady's White House assistants and a longtime friend, Bob Dahlgren, thought up the idea. There were no serious moments.
The cast of characters included "Sky King," a Georgetown drifter who from time to time gets picked up by the police for directing traffic in the nude at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. He has shaggy hair and a shaggier beard, and wears a heavy lumberjack shirt with the sleeves removed, a pair of raggedy cut-offs and hiking boots with the toes removed.
Interviewing the guests was CBS correspondent Bill Plante. Free-lance photographer Bob Cirace did the filming and his assistant, Stevie Brennan, the audio.
Presidential assistant Lyn Nofziger dropped by to say, before the camera, "I've known Jim Brady for a long time, and I want to apologize for that."
Freelance writer Bob Sellers got on film to say, "Brady's problem is that he hates the media."
Bill Smith, who is with Exxon, brought his bagpipes along -- "My sticks," he called them -- and played "The Wearing of the Green" and "Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here."
Part-time bartender and full-time painter Bill O'Brien suggested Brady was an informant for the FBI.
"No matter what bar I worked at . . . if you had to walk through al alley, up a flight of stairs and in a back bar, Brady would show up within an hour after I started my first shift. He always found me."
Phony bar checks were held up for the camera by bartender Brian Knight, who said, "Jim, when you released, I'd like you to pay these. The bookkeeper is quite upset."
When former White House press secretary Jody Powell was told about the Brady luncheon he said he wouldn't miss it for the world.
Plante, holding the mike, said to Powell, "Jody, as you know, we picked this gathering of sophisticates and intellectuals to consider Jim Brady."
"We'll, he certainly deserves consideration," Powell said. "I never realized what a handicap he had to deal with until I began to meet all of his friends and associates.
"I brought a rather scruffy-looking group aboard with me when I came to the White House, but this without a doubt is the worst looking set of folks I've ever seen in my life.
"I just want to say that it is certainly a tribute to him that he has risen above all of them."
Travel promoter Bernie Furey brought in 150 Chicago Cubs baseball caps. The Cubs are Brady's favorite team.
The camera crew recorded everyone with the caps on.
A postscript to the party occurred that night, O'Brien later related.
"My wife, Gaby, was a little overdue with her pregnancy," he said. "On Saturday night the labor pains got down to about five minutes. We started out the door to catch a cab when the phone rang. It was Brady from the hospital; his wife had found us.
"He wished us luck and said, 'Happy baby.'
"With all his problems he had time to think of us."